President Bush says prompt U.N. action is required to save lives in Sudan's Darfur region. The president spoke with reporters after meeting with his new special envoy to Sudan, Monday.
President Bush says the world has a responsibility to respond to what he views as genocide in Darfur. He said the United Nations has an important role to play in ending human suffering in the Sudanese region, but that time is of the essence.
"In my view, the United Nations should not wait any longer to approve a blue-helmeted force, a U.N. force of peacekeepers to protect the innocent people," he said.
Mr. Bush said his new envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, will be asked to rally the international community to, as he put it, "solve the problem" in Darfur.
Natsios faces significant hurdles, beginning with the fact the Sudanese government has been slow to approve a visa for the envoy, effectively blocking his access to the country.
In addition, Sudan has rejected a U.N. peacekeeping force for Darfur, which the Security Council approved in August. U.N. observers say the possibility of sanctions to compel Sudan to change its stance has been undermined by opposition from China, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council.
Yet Natsios struck an upbeat tone at the White House, saying he knows leaders in all regions of Sudan, and will make use of those contacts to forge a lasting solution to violence in Darfur.
"Our objective is not just to have a temporary fix for two months, but to try to deal with the root causes of this, so we do not have a fourth war in five years, should we end this one successfully," he said.
Hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have perished in three years of fighting between ethnic-minority rebel groups and militias backed by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum. More than two million others have been displaced.
Human rights groups are bracing for another a surge in bloodshed in Darfur amid a new government offensive against rebels.
The Sudanese government insists it can contain the violence on its own, and has suggested re-inforcing an existing 7,000-member African Union force in Darfur. The Bush administration says the AU force is inadequate.